It is very easy to be cynical about the church. I have often been guilty of this myself. This is especially true when we think about the church only as the institution and program we see on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, this is likely a common view for many Americans. So, we get into long and sometimes ridiculous discussions about what the Sunday morning meeting should look like. Don’t get me wrong, we should think, talk, and plan about that, but it shouldn’t consume us.
This morning I gathered in a hospital waiting room with a group of guys that I have the deepest respect for who shepherd our church. I was honored to come alongside them and lay hands on a sweet lady whose husband is lying in a hospital bed after suffering a massive stroke and pray with her. The gentleman lying in that bed is a hero of the faith. He is a legend in our church and has had an impact across the world. They have lived a long life together as husband and wife and now she is walking through the valley the psalmist speaks of in Psalm 23. It is a journey through a valley that some of us have not yet even experienced and some of us know all too well.
I love Psalm 23. It is likely one of the most well known passages in all of Scripture. I particularly like the part about how we have no fear when walking through that valley because the rod and staff of the Shepherd comfort us. I don’t think the comfort comes from an intellectual knowledge of the Shepherd. To me, the comfort is fully realized in the flesh through the Body of Christ, his church. I want so bad to do something for this precious lady walking through this dark valley, but the thing is, there is nothing I can do. Not because there isn’t anything to be done, but because she is surrounded by a group of people who are already showing her in the flesh the comfort of the Shepherd. Now that the time has come for her to journey through this dark valley, she isn’t walking alone. The church of Jesus Christ is walking with her, comforting her.
You can be cynical about church and have endless conversations about Sunday morning. You can think the church to be a waste, not worth your time and effort. I know this though; I am going to think twice about cynicism in the church. Because when the time comes, I want them walking through some of the darkest seasons of my life with me. I can’t do this journey alone. No one can. The church is so much more than a Sunday program. The church is the comfort of the Shepherd’s rod and staff being fleshed out in our lives.
And as a complete side note, I absolutely love my church. I saw today the giant footsteps that our current elders have to fill from some great men who have gone before them. I couldn’t be more proud of how well they are doing just that. We may not always look perfect on our Sunday mornings or in our programs. We will make mistakes. However, there isn’t another group of believers I would rather be on this journey with right now. I thank God for his church worldwide. Not the institution, but the people.